Read Matthew 18:1-6.
Pre-Pentecost, Jesus’ disciples were having some major struggles with self and position. Thus the reason for the question, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
It was obvious they still had not grasped the kind of kingdom Jesus was establishing. So, he called a little child over as a visual.
“You’ve got to become like this to enter into my kingdom” (Carol’s translation).
It was not about the size of the child physically, but the condition of the heart. Children are naturally loving and humble, submissive and obedient (at least until the sin nature takes over). We not only need to be like children to enter the kingdom, but should welcome children into the kingdom.
Then came the warning.
But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
That was no ordinary warning. Jesus really does love the little children.
Just this week I feel as if I’ve read, more than usual, horrific accounts of crimes committed against innocent children. Though I know there is nothing new under the sun, it seems that such acts are increasing and becoming almost commonplace.
But Jesus isn’t talking to people “of the world”, he’s talking to those who claim to follow him as Lord and Savior. So I ask myself, “what would lead me to cause a child to sin?”
I believe the key is right there in the passage. “Whoever humbles himself like this child…” When I lose my humility before Christ, my attitude changes towards those around me. I look for position instead of a place of service.
I put myself above others…even while I say I’m serving God. Wasn’t the apostle Paul talking about the same thing when pointing to Christ as the example?
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus.
The evils of the world against children are easy to see — murder, rape, torture, starvation, incest, deprivation, exploitation. These things stand out to us as brazen sin, pure evil against the innocence of a child.
Yet, Jesus is talking about the not-so-obvious sins. Those that get overlooked or swept under the rug, because they’re done right in the middle of the Sunday School room or church building. We are guilty of replacing childlike humility with our grown up pride…all for the cause of Christ.
We push children to achieve in reciting verses and doing good deeds. We reward with candy and prizes. We compliment those who wear the prettiest dress or neatest suit. We take pictures of those who do well in class, and we teach pity for the poor instead of compassion and love.
Forgive me, Lord, for not reflecting the attitude of Christ with the little ones under my care. Replace my pride with humility, Lord, that I might reflect you to them.
Oh, Lord, have mercy.